It took state representatives nearly 17 hours of debate and more than 300 proposed amendments before they approved a $209.8 billion state budget for 2016-17 in the wee hours of the morning Wednesday. The proposed budget includes $460 million in general revenue funds to restore Medicaid payments to Medicare levels for certain primary care physicians and providers. The House proposal would increase funding for tobacco cessation, women’s health, mental health, and undergraduate and graduate medical education. The plan now moves to the Senate, which is expected to vote this week on its version of the budget. So far, the draft Senate plan doesn’t include the enhanced Medicaid payments, but it does have more money for graduate medical education, women’s preventive health care, and substance abuse and local mental health crisis services. The two chambers will resolve their differences in a conference committee.
In other legislative news:
- The Senate passed Senate Bill 538 by Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), which would increase the state’s preparedness for responding to infectious disease threats.
- The House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures took testimony on the occupation tax repeal bill, Committee Substitute House Bill 7 by Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo).